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Weber State’s Morgan Bentley Wins Inaugural Wolf Creek Invitational

By Randy Dodson, Fairways Media

Taitum Beck, a match play qualifier at this year’s Utah Women’s State Amateur and the champion of this year’s Wisconsin Women’s State Amateur has worked in the golf shop at Wolf Creek Resort for a few years while attending Weber State University.

Taitum Beck

As a junior on the Wildcat’s women’s golf team she has played the resort course near Eden, Utah many times. On Sept. 21 she shot a career low at the course she now calls home, a 1-over 73. Unfortunately, it was just the opening round of the inaugural Wolf Creek Invitational.

With two solid rounds of (+3) 75-72 – 147 Morgan Bentley, a junior teammate of Beck’s, won the 36-hole event. The Tacoma, Washington native said she, “…just played really solid golf.” Her final round included two birdies against two bogeys.

“I just tried to give it my all for each shot,” said Bentley. “I wanted to put a good stroke on every putt and just trust my game. I didn’t know how I would feel, this season has been so different. It was great to compete again, I really missed it.”

Beck took a two-stroke lead into the final round but admitted to getting caught up in looking ahead and worrying about results. A final round 80 left her in second place.

“I had too many mental mistakes and let my nerves get the best of me today. I was too worried about the results instead of the shot at hand,” Beck said.

The Wisconsin native said, “It was so much fun to be able to play Wolf Creek in a different setting. I love the course and the challenges that it presents.”

Wolf Creek Resort Head PGA Professional Bruce Summerhays, Jr. and staff with support from the Utah Section PGA put the individual stroke play invitational together providing competition for collegiate golfers whose season was cancelled or postponed earlier this year due to global pandemic concerns. There was no team competition during this event. Full results of the Wolf Creek Invitational are AVAILABLE HERE.

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Summerhays Wins Section Championship

By Mike Sorensen, Deseret News

Joe Summerhays said it was all about patience.

The two previous years he had battled Zach Johnson on the final day of the Utah Section PGA Championship only to come up empty and finish second.

At this year’s September tourney, he went into the final day, trailing the two-time champion by a couple of shots and he was still trailing with four holes left, while playing what he called “some of the worst golf all year.”

But the 49-year-old northern Utah teaching pro didn’t get rattled.

“I was patient and stayed in there,” he said.

Summerhays made birdies at holes 6 and 7 (the 15th and 16th of the day), while Johnson bogeyed both holes to turn a two-stroke deficit into a two-shot lead, which he held onto for his first-ever Utah Section PGA Professional Championship victory. Summerhays finished at 141, while Johnson tied for second with Chris Moody and Pete Stone at 143.

“When you’re playing well, you can be more patient because you know you’re going to start hitting some good shots again,” he said. “I’ve done that this year where I’ve started off bad, but I’ve been patient and been able to bring it back. My patience was my key to the win.” 

As happy as he was with the victory, Summerhays was more thrilled for his younger brother, Bruce, who finished in a tie for sixth, qualifying for next spring’s National PGA Professional Championship.

Wolf Creek Resort Head Professional Bruce Summerhays.
Photo: Randy Dodson, Fairways Media

Bruce hasn’t had the success of others in the Summerhays family, but Joe knows what a good player he is and that he doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Joe played with his brother in the final round and became emotional on the final hole when he realized he would qualify for the national club pro event for the first time.

“I wasn’t feeling anything for me, I was just so proud of him,” Joe said. “I’m way more excited for him, he deserves it. We come from a family of really good golfers, but he doesn’t get the credit. He can really play and it was fun to see it. He played really well.” Besides the two Summerhays brothers, Johnson, Stone and Moody, Aaron Purviance and Matt Baird, also qualified for next spring’s PGA Professional Championship.

The Summerhays brothers paired together in the final round.
Photo: Randy Dodson, Fairways Media

Below paragraphs added by Jesse Dodson.

Bloomington Country Club Director of Golf Scott Brandt took both the Senior and Super Senior divisions with a final total of 140, seven shots clear of the runner up finishers.

Scott Brandt waiting to tee off at Toana Vista Golf Course in Wendover.
Photo: Randy Dodson, Fairways Media

PGA of America Life Member Robert Rudd finished at 151 to win the Legend Division.

Full Results HERE.

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Former BYU Golfer Peter Kuest Completes a Utah Open Runaway

Story By Kurt Kragthorpe for the Salt Lake Tribune

Organizers of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship could have created a much more dramatic finish Sunday in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open if they had awarded former BYU star Peter Kuest a sponsor exemption as a rookie pro.

Kuest instead returned to Riverside Country Club and turned the Utah Open into a runaway on the Cougars’ home course, claiming the $15,000 first prize. As the final round unfolded, the only question became whether Kuest could challenge former BYU teammate Patrick Fishburn’s tournament-record score — not that he was aware of Fishburn’s 26-under-par total for three rounds, prior to the post-round interview.

Peter Kuest with the historic Utah Open trophy.

“It would have been sweet to get the record,” Kuest said, “but a win’s good enough.”

Especially when the margin of victory is seven strokes, comparable to Fishburn’s nine-shot win a couple of weeks before starting his senior year in 2017. Kuest finished at 23 under, making three birdies and a bogey on the back nine after having given himself a shot at the 54-hole record with four birdies on the front side.

Kuest labeled the final round “a grind … but a lot of fun,” having posted a 66 to follow his 63-64 start. Kavan Eubank, a recent Texas A&M graduate who’s now a Boise State assistant golf coach, closed with a 65. Eubank took second and Colorado pro Zahkai Brown, a frequent high finisher in the Utah Open, tied for third during what became a disappointing day for some Utah club professionals.

Riverside Teaching Pro Matt Baird played in the final group and faded to a tie for seventh place overall (worth $4,233), although he earned a $1,500 bonus as the low member of the Utah Section PGA. Glenwild Golf Club Director of Instruction Craig Hocknull rallied to shoot a 75, after starting the day in a tie for third and going 7 over on the front nine.

Matt Baird, low Utah Section PGA member.

The amateurs provided most of Sunday’s intrigue. BYU golfer Kelton Hirsch shot a 14-under total for the second straight year and again lost a playoff. In this case, he was contending for low amateur honors. St. George’s Hayden Christensen topped him with a par on the first playoff hole, after matching Sunday’s low score of 65.

Christensen, who plans to turn pro after the State Amateur in early September, started the round 10 strokes out of the lead and briefly allowed himself to wonder about catching Kuest. That thinking was almost justified, considering Christensen chipped in for an eagle on the par-5 No. 5 and played the first seven holes in 7 under. That’s where he finished. Yet even after not fully capitalizing on his spectacular possibilities, he was hardly unhappy afterward, “because I’ve never been in that position before,” he said.

Hayden Christensen, Low Amateur.

Kuest’s closing 66 was not entirely satisfying, as he needed two shots to escape a greenside bunker on the par-3 No. 17 and made a bogey. He liked the way he started the round and separated himself from any potential challengers, though. And even amid his big-time ambitions in pro golf, $15,000 seems like a lot of money, at the moment. In five PGA Tour starts this summer, he earned only $7,525.

Asked what the return to Riverside did for his career, Kuest smiled and said, “It got me a little more money in my bank account, for sure. It just verified what I’ve been doing and that my hard work’s starting to pay off a little bit more, and that I can really compete and take it low.”

Peter Kuest with an up-and-down for birdie on hole 7.

The Californian is targeting more sponsor exemptions in September and October, as the Tour’s 2020-21 schedule begins. The 2017 West Coast Conference Championship at Riverside was the first of Kuest’s 10 wins as a collegian. He would love to have the Utah Open become the start of big things to come in pro golf.

Click here for Kurt Kragthorpe’s Salt Lake Tribune Story.

Click here for Final Round photos.

Click here for final results.

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BYU Golfer Kerstin Fotu Takes Early Lead as Thanksgiving Point Hosts Utah Women’s Open

By Jay Drew, Deseret News

Original Deseret News Story can be found HERE.

BYU golfer Kerstin Fotu wasn’t able to successfully defend her 2019 Utah Women’s State Amateur title last month, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Grace Summerhays at Soldier Hollow Golf Club in Midway.

Seemingly unfazed, Fotu jumped out to the lead on Monday in the fourth annual Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club. Fotu, a Lone Peak High product who will be a sophomore at BYU this fall, fired a 2-under-par 70 and leads fellow amateur Tess Blair by a stroke heading into Tuesday’s final round.

Tess Blair

Blair, a Bingham High product who was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year at Sacramento State last season, is at 71. She’s followed by professionals Lea Garner and Sadie Palmer, and amateurs Lila Galea’i and Ali Mulhall at 72.

Lea Garner

Garner, the two-time winner of the event, is a former BYU and Bonneville High golfer who plays mini-tour events throughout the West.

University of San Francisco golfer Annika Borrelli, the 2019 champion, is not entered this year.

Five golfers shot 1-over-par 73 and are tied for seventh. That group is made up of Salt Lake City pro Haley Sturgeon, Ogden pro Xena Motes, BYU golfer Naomi Soifua, Las Vegas amateur Veronica Joels and Orem amateur Kiselya Plewe, a Weber State standout.

Fotu, from Highland, made a bogey on her first hole but birdied hole Nos. 5 and 7 to gain some momentum. She bogeyed No. 9, then got back under par with a birdie on No. 14 and finished with a birdie on the difficult par-3 17th hole to take the first-round lead.

First-Round Leader Board.

First-Round Photos.

Photos by Utah Section PGA/Jesse Dodson.

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Prep Girls Golf Tourneys Will Be Played, Run By The Utah Section PGA

Story by Mike Sorensen for the Deseret News

Although there will be no high school sports sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association this spring, tournaments for female golfers and a few male golfers will be played later this month.

The Utah Section PGA, which has helped run the state girls golf tournaments for the past decade, will hold an individual championship with each high school able to invite six golfers to compete. No team competition will be held.

The first event will be played on May 27 at Meadowbrook Golf Course in Salt Lake County Fox Hollow Golf Course for girls that play at 6A and 5A schools. On June 3 June 4, a tournament for 4A, 3A and 2A girls as well as 1A boys will be played, also at Meadowbrook at Rose Park Golf Course (boys prep golf for classes 2A through 6A are held in the fall).

“We’re sensitive to all the seniors who didn’t get to play and feel bad they had to miss out on this season,” said Utah Section PGA executive director Devin Dehlin. “We look forward to being able to give the kids something to look forward to.”

The entry fee is $40 per player with entries taken at utahpga.com. Golf coaches should send their list of players to agoodman@pgahq.com. Entries will close May 15 at 11 a.m.

Dehlin said the safety of the players, staff and everyone involved in the events will be a priority and tournament officials will be following CDC guidelines. They also will be following guidelines current at most golf courses with no rakes in bunkers, flagsticks left in and no scoreboard or scoring area. No coaches or caddies will be allowed and a decision on whether to allow spectators will be made closer to the dates of the tournaments.

The Utah Section PGA will also name 10-player all-state teams from each classification after the meets.

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The Peacock of the Fairways

By Randy Dodson

He was sitting in the corner of the viewing room by himself.

I looked at him, not catching his eye, and turned away thinking that I had met him before, somewhere. He looked familiar but I couldn’t place a name with his face. As much as I have run around in Utah’s golf circles it bothered me that I could not name him.

I moved along the viewing line at Billy Casper’s funeral and took a few more glances at him, again without catching his eye.

I paid my respects to Billy, his wife Shirley and the family then turned to find a seat in the chapel.

With one last look, he was looking right back at me. Not wanting to be disrespectful of someone I was sure I knew I walked over, shook his hand and introduced myself.

He smiled and said, “I’m Doug Sanders.”

I knew just enough of the former PGA Tour member to recognize his face but not enough to remember why.

For the next few minutes I sat with the “Peacock of the Fairways” as he told me a few stories of playing with Billy during their PGA Tour heyday. With a tear on his cheek he told me how they caravanned from stop to stop and that Billy would come to Houston and play his tournament. He missed the camaraderie of those days on tour.

Bob Casper said Sanders was known for going out of his way to be nice. “My mother said it meant a lot to her and our family that Doug attended the funeral.” He had driven to Utah from Texas to be there that day. Just for Billy. “That was really special to us,” Casper said.

From head to toe you could not miss Doug Sanders. With 20 PGA Tour wins he is best known for his neon-bright colorful apparel and for missing a three-foot putt to win the 1970 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Sanders lost the following 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus by one-stroke, 73 to 72. It was the second of three Nicklaus wins at the Open and the fourth of four runner-up finishes Sanders had in major tournaments.

“I remember thinking how bizarre it was that he would show up at an LDS  church in Utah County,” says sports anchor Wesley Ruff. “I think most people think of him as the guy who jabbed that little putt at the Open at St. Andrews and ended up in a playoff with Nicklaus, which he lost. But he won 20 times on the Tour. That’s a lot! What he did in the majors in 1966 is pretty amazing. Top 10 in all four that year! T2 at the British, T4 at the Masters, T6 at the PGA Championship, and T8 at the U.S. Open. And he won three times that year, including a playoff win over Arnold Palmer at the Bob Hope Desert Classic.”

Doug Sanders

Former Utahn Laury Livsey, the PGA Tour’s senior director of international communications provides the following history of Sander’s playing days in Utah:

“The two PGA Tour events Sanders played in Utah were the 1958 and1960 Utah Opens, both at the Salt Lake Country Club. He was T15 in 1958, fifth in 1960. Pretty respectable. In 1960, he held the 54-hole lead (64-67-64), two shots ahead of Bill Collins. He shot a final-round 71 to (Utah Golf Hall of Famer) Billy Johnston’s 63 and finished four shots behind Johnston (a prince of a guy who will deserve a long obituary and all the accolades despite not having near the career Sanders had). It went Johnston, Art Wall Jr, Collins and Ken Venturi (T3) and Sanders in fifth. A third-round 73 derailed his chances in 1958. As for his PGA Tour Champions career, he played once at Park Meadows, in 1999, when he was well past his prime. He finished 77th.”

Of the1960 Utah Open Deseret News sports writer George Ferguson reported, “And so it was that despite multi-sensational rounds, which entertained the huge galleries no end, the sub-par scorched course eventually put the whammy on all previous leaders – Jay Herbert, Bill Collins, Doug Sanders and Dow Finsterwald.

“Sanders, who carried a two stroke lead into Monday’s finale, found his nemesis lurking in the island of scrub oak which protects No. 4 green and prompts a play it safe or gamble decision.

“Doug gambled. And before he had scrambled out of the oak, onto the bordering rough, in and out of a sand trap and into the cup, he had a bogey and had lost the lead – at that particular point to Finsterwald and Collins.

“That seemed to set a scrambling pattern for Doug. The young man with the brief backswing who shared the lead the first day and led the third was through. He came in with a 71, a 266 total, good for fifth and $1,100.”  (Deseret News September 13, 1960.)

Of local interest, 2020 Utah Golf Hall of Fame inductee Lou North was the low amateur of the 1960 Utah Open at T25 with professional Dick Kramer. George Schneiter Sr. beat his nephew Ernie Schneiter Jr. for 28th place and a $90 payday. 

My only previous encounter with the Sanders persona happened in the Las Vegas National clubhouse where, as a former winner of the 1959 Sahara Pro Am, then an unofficial PGA Tour event and predecessor to the PGA Tour’s Sahara Invitational, Sander’s complete pink outfit; shirt, sweater, belt, pant, socks and shoes is enshrined in the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame.

Though his life on tour was full of documented shenanigans off the course, my memory of Sanders from our brief chat in Billy Casper’s viewing room is of a soft spoken man with a vivid memory of meaningful times with famous friends, playing a game that defined his life and lifestyle.

Sanders, at 86-years old, passed away earlier this week, on Easter Sunday, in Houston, Texas. 

Randy Dodson is the publisher of Fairways magazine and a frequent contributor to the Utah PGA News page.

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PGA of America Debuts New PGA.com to Enhance Connection Between PGA Professionals and Consumers

By Michael Abramowitz, PGA of America

The PGA of America has launched a newly reimagined PGA.com to connect consumers with PGA Professionals. The redesigned site, which is now managed in-house by the PGA, focuses on the journey a golfer takes to begin or improve his or her game, no matter their skill level.

PGA.com and its affiliated championship sites will also continue to provide coverage of prominent events, such as the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. However, an important emphasis of PGA.com will be on the opportunities enabled by enhancing the coach-consumer relationship.

“PGA.com is designed to bring to life the special relationship between PGA Professionals and consumers through coaching and other consumer-focused services, with a vision that ‘your best golf is ahead of you,’” said PGA Interactive General Manager Rob Smith. “There are so many ways in which a journey in golf can positively impact your life. Our job is to identify the best ways to connect with PGA Professionals across all aspects of the game, beginning with coaching.”

An important shift in the new PGA.com site will be speaking through the voice of the PGA Professional. On the site, PGA Professionals will be featured prominently and given the opportunity to provide exclusive content to engage consumers, including first-person feature articles, videos and advice to help golfers with various aspects of the game and the golf lifestyle.

In the second phase of the launch, scheduled for later this year, consumers will be able to easily search for PGA Professionals who have completed both their American Development Model for Golf (ADM) training available on PGA.Coach and a detailed PGA.com coach profile. ADM utilizes long-term athlete development and quality coaching concepts to promote sustained physical activity, athlete safety and age-appropriate growth. PGA.com is designed to help these coaches establish a relationship with new golfers and then build upon that connection, to give consumers the resources they need to achieve their goals.

“The PGA of America is committed to the future of coaching through the American Development Model for Golf,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley. “As we look to transition the industry from a transaction against a lesson to the lifetime value in a coaching relationship, PGA.com is being architected to facilitate the digital evolution of coaching.”

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Todd Mullen Selected as Utah High School Girls Golf Coach of the Year

By Hannah Wishart, The Richfield Reaper

Richfield High School’s girls’ golf Coach Todd Mullen has been selected as the 2018-19 Utah Girls Golf Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High School Coaches Association, Jan. 3. Mullen was specifically nominated by the Utah High School’s Activities Association as the most deserving recipient for the honor. 

This year’s honorees were selected based upon their coaching performance in the 2018-19 school year, lifetime community involvement, school involvement and philosophy of coaching. The NFHS relies on its member state associations to recognize those who are leading their sport, shaping their athletes and contributing to their community, according to Dr. Karissa L. Neihoff, executive director of the NFHS. 

“It is our pleasure to recognize leaders and role models at the interscholastic level,” Neihoff said. “And, it is to the credit of athletic directors like Richard Barton that coaches like Todd are able to contribute in such a positive way to the youth of our country and communities.” 

Todd Mullen is the head golf professional at Cove View Golf Course in Richfield, Utah, and won the 2018 Utah Section PGA Youth Player Development Leader Award for his continued efforts in sharing the game to the youth in the Richfield community.

Craig Norman

Craig Norman, 2019 Utah Section PGA Professional of the Year

By Dick Harmon

All Craig Norman ever wanted to be was a golf professional, make the game his life. When he got his wish, it was all he dreamed it would be.  Going to his job as head golf professional at Hobble Creek Golf Course is a step towards heaven for the Provo native.

Norman was named the 2019 Professional of the Year by his peers in the Utah Section of the PGA of America in October, an honor that left him stunned and speechless, humbled to his core.  “I had no idea and I may not be deserving of that great honor,” he said.

“If you look at the names on that list over the years, that is a lot to live up to. I am deeply honored and cannot believe it, no, not at all.”

Humility aside, Norman has etched a profile in Utah as a consummate pro, uniquely gifted to strike the right balance between manager of manicured acres and a facilitator of fun with clubs, balls, grass, and cups.  It takes an artist to put it altogether.

Norman, the nephew of one of Utah’s longest-tenured golf professionals, the retired Sonny Braun, replaced Braun a few years ago after being his assistant since 1993. Before that, he was an assistant at Riverside Country Club in Provo from 1986-1993. 

Norman’s work in 2019 is highlighted by overseeing the return of one of the state’s favorite public courses after issues with pump and water rights reduced irrigation by 30 percent for the 2018 season.  He has increased corporate tournament play to 40-plus events a year, organized an efficient, hardworking staff, increased participation in the men’s, women’s and junior associations tied to the course and traveled the state as a volunteer rules official. He was the official starter at the Siegfried and Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club, just 11 days after undergoing back surgery.

A friendly, upbeat, accommodating face in Utah golf, his dedication and love for the game is evident in everything he does. It is a natural offshoot of his upbringing by parents who made golf their lifetime hobby and a sister, Terry Norman Hansen, one of the most prolific women’s amateur players in state history. Craig, who played at Provo High School, played collegiately at Utah State University.

“I wish my mom and dad were here to see this,” said Craig who lost his father in 2007 and his mother, a prolific association winner at East Bay and old Timpanogos Golf Courses, in 2017.

Norman has always been enchanted by the draw of golf.  “It’s the most unfair game you play because it’s a chase of the unattainable yet attraction of the belief that you can master it.  You can hit it perfectly, but if you can’t make a 3-footer, it’s all for naught.”

2019 Awards Announced

2019 Utah Section PGA Awards Announced

The Utah Section PGA is excited to announce the 2019 Award Winners. We had so many incredible nominees this year. It is great to know that we have so many PGA Professionals going above and beyond at their facilities and their efforts within Utah golf.

A special thank you to the committee for the time you put into the detailed process of selecting this year’s class. And thanks to all of you for your efforts in growing the game in Utah.

Congratulations to all of our deserving winners! We will be honoring them at the Annual Awards Banquet on February 11, 2020 at Bloomington Country Club in St. George, UT.

Professional of the Year: Craig Norman, Hobble Creek 

Teacher of the Year: Tommy Sharp, Golf Lab

Youth Player Development: Jake Wyatt, Gladstan 

Assistant of the Year: Jon DeBoer, Tuhaye

Jon Unger Award: Brian Howes, Callaway 

Merchandiser of the Year Private: Marty BauerGlenwild

Merchandiser of the Year Public: Lynn Landgren, Bonneville

Player Development Award: Bryant Boshard, The Ridge  

Superintendent of the Year Public: Tracy Howard, Carbon Country Club

Superintendent of the Year Private: Paul Stokes, Logan Country Club

Horton Smith: Chad Pettingill, Jeremy Ranch

Bill Howard: Dale Darling

Bill Strausbaugh: Darci Olsen, Glenmoor

Gentleman Jeff: Scott Whittaker